LOCATION – Romance of Redcar’s Parks – Parks Superintendent Redcar
Accreditation Cleveland Standard 08/06/1935
ROMANCE OF REDCAR’S PARKS
How The Magic of Changes is Effected
(SPECIAL TO THE “STANDARD”
Taking a walk through Locke Park the other day my friend and I were commenting on the splendid display of wallflowers of deep red hue, next to the bed of that delightful bronze shape, held our attention. Without doubt they provided a colourful scene.
A day or two later I strolled that way again. And I was amazed at the complete metamorphosis which had taken place? I rubbed my eyes but the change was real. What had become of the wallflowers? For their place bloomed in glorious profusion a mass of crimson geraniums, next to a bed of dwarf dahlias as yet in bud.
Now meet the magician of the parks, the man to whom these startling changes are all a day’s work.
Mr. T. W. Scott, Parks Superintendent of the Borough of Redcar, told me that these arrangements are the result of planning six months ahead all the time. In fact, in some things such as shrubs and trees, a scheme is considered fully two years before they eventually appear in one of Redcar’s parks.
Redcar has been called a town of parks, and it boasted that there is a park within five minutes of every home, and very rightly, too, is this fact a source of pride, for the parks provide one of the borough’s major attractions.
ALWAYS SOMETHING IN FLOWER
Just now the “spring flowering” plants, which were bedded in October and November, are being removed and the “summer flowering” plants are taking their place.
“In the parks we try to have something always in flower,” said Mr. Scott, “and except for a short period in winter we are successful. From February until the end of November we have something worth seeing.”
“The whole aim is, of course, to follow up one thing with another with as little waiting time as possible.”
It is an interesting fact that very few plants are bought for use in the Redcar parks, for practically the whole of the plants and shrubs which provide these floral displays are propagated from seed in the Corporation’s own nurseries. Seeds are obtained from all quarters of the globe – from Tibet, the Himalayas, Sierra Nevada, New Zealand, and California.
This means a lot of experimenting to discover what plants will flourish in our changeable climate. I is curious that of two plants from, let us say, California, one will flourish under climatic conditions while the other cannot be induced to grow under any circumstances.
VALUE OF EXPERIMENTS
The results of these experiments will be invaluable not only to the planning of the parks, but to local horticulturists who are anxious – and who of them is not? – to grow something out of the ordinary run of plants. Many plants not usually successful in this part of the country are to be seen in Redcar’s modern playgrounds.
Mr. Scott’s office overlooks the nursery land of parks – an array of greenhouses, cold frames, plants in pots and in boxes which “cradle” them during their tender months. But at present the area of greenhouses is not at all superfluous, and the cold frames are used to supplement this lack of accommodation.
THE SCHEME OF THINGS
Here is the scheme of things. In October and November are planted bulbs, wallflowers, forget-me-nots, polyanthus and arabis, which flower during March, April, and May, bringing the first breaths of spring. While these are in bloom, seeds are being sown in the secret places of the Most High which next year will provide a pleasant sight for winter-weary town dwellers.
When these have had their day asters, stocks, geraniums, lobelias, and dahlias come into their own. Propagation of these has taken place from January. The summer months are spent looking after the beds in their riotous profusion of summer colouring, and tending the young plants for the following spring,
And so continues the merry circle. An all-the-year round task, with judicious foresight and planning, provides an all-the year-round – or nearly so – display.
It would be of no avail to attempts making arrangements at the time of planting out, for the simple reason that five places are planted at the same time.
The work of planting out the summer flowers, which is now preceding, takes three weeks. It is begun about the middle of May and usually completed before the same time in June. The spring planting cannot be so easily arranged as such a great deal depends on the weather.
The propagation of the shrubs takes place in November. Two or three times each year are filled and emptied, for as soon as ever one batch becomes hardy enough to be moved outside there places are taken by Lot No. 2.
Mr. Scott’s duties have led him to take particular notice of the weather conditions, and he is more than an amateur Clerk of the Weather. He has observed that from about April 18 to April 25, and also at the end of May, spells of cold weather usually occur, when hail and sleet are the order of the day.
“This year, of course, has been worse than anything I have known at the end of May,” he said.
Now statistics: For summer bedding in the various parks in the borough over 50,000 plants are used. For the autumn bedding the figures are about 40,000 plants, with more than 10,000 bulbs. But a walk round the parks, and especially if undertaken in one day, will soon remove any feelings of surprise at these figures.
“The whole thing turns on preparation,” explained Mr. Scott. “Being ready with the various species of plants to follow on in succession makes it possible. We always try to have some kind ready that will be in season when most required.”
That you see, is the whole secret of this surprising affair. The parks acquire these chameleon-like qualities through the arrangements carefully planned – sometimes in the dead of winter – in an office overlooking cold frames and greenhouses.
BRIGHT SPRING DISPLAY
Mr. Scott places great faith in the necessity for a brilliant display in the spring time. He considers the first flowers of spring are much more appreciated than the last flowers of summer because by that time people have seen so much floral beauty.
“Even the dandelion and the daisy, which later are apt to become a nuisance, have their admirers,” he said..
When these have had their day, asters, stocks geraniums, lobelias, and dahlias come into their own. Propagation of these has taken place from January. The summer months are spent looking after the beds in their riotous profusion of summer colouring, and tending the young plants for the following spring.
And so continues the merry circle. An all-the-year-round task, which with judicious foresight and planning, provides an all-the-year-round – or nearly so – display.
It would be of no avail to attempt making arrangements at the time of planting out for the simple reason that five places are planted at the same time.
The work of planting of the summer flowers, which is now proceeding, takes three weeks. It is begun about the middle of May and usually completed before the same time in June. The spring planting cannot be so easily arranged as such a great deal depends on the weather.
The propagation of the shrubs takes place in November, Two or three times each year greenhouses are filled and emptied, for as soon as ever one batch becomes hardy enough to be moved outside their places are taken by Lot No.2.
IMPORTANCE OF PLANNING
A splendid proof, it will be agreed, that the glory of the garden lies in more than meets the eye.
Planning also takes into account the number of plants, and during the past week a thousand geraniums have been used for the display in front of the Municipal Buildings.
Mr. Scott does not like a bed to contain more than one variety. In his opinion it spoils the whole effect and is not by any means so splendid a sight as when different plants are segregated.
As I left Mr. Scott, the man in whose hands lies Redcar’s reputation as a town of glorious parks, I began to realise slightly what it means to cater for the people in floral beauty, when the vagaries of the weather and numerous other contingencies are also weighed in the balance.
dean April 8, 2010 Parks